Big data, little data: accelerating the pace of taxonomy

18 June


Large Lecture Theatre

Dr Robert Scotland
Department of Plant Sciences, Oxford

Drawing on experience from three large taxonomic studies of Strobilanthes, Convolvulus and Ipomoea, I will discuss current knowledge of flowering plant diversity. I will illustrate that there remain substantial numbers of new species to describe, significant levels of synonymy and that a large fraction of the world’s natural history collections are associated with the wrong name. The talk will illustrate and discuss how new species are discovered in the context of plant taxonomy. I will describe an initiative to accelerate the pace of revising and discovering species that we term ‘Foundation Monographs’. The talk will conclude with two examples of the importance of taxonomy relative to measures of Phylogenetic Diversity (PD) in conservation and the origin and evolution of the sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas).